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Thread: Reel To Reel

  1. #1
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    Reel To Reel

    I dug out my reel to reel this weekend and hooked it up. Believe it or not R2R (reel to reel) is making a come back, just like vinyl did. Here is my advise incase you want to go down the R2R rabbit hole. It ain't cheap. A few years ago, you could buy and old R2R machine for next to nothing, basically, because most of them don't work. There are too many moving parts in them that need fixing, but the good news, is that they can be fixed. Today the prices are going up, even for broken machines. There is one exception, and that is the one I have. This is a Pioneer RT-707 R2R. The reason this is the only exception is, because the RT-707 is direct drive, so it basically has no belts or moving parts that need to be replaced or adjusted. The last time I used mine was around 10 years ago. Yesterday, I hooked it back up, cleaned the heads with a Qtip dipped in alcohol, and it came back to life and sounds as good as ever. The only belt that it has in it, is the one for the counter, and you don't need the counter. Luckily, my counter still works. So why get a R2R? Because they are cool as hell, and it is the only format, that sounds better than vinyl. If you got really deep pockets, you can buy a brand new, original master tape, of Led Zeppelin, or many other artist, and it will blow the vinyl out of the water. But most of us just use them to record our own vinyl, or streamed music, off of a streaming service like Tidal, or Apple music. Why? Because its cool to sit back ,and watch those reals go round and round, blasting out beautiful music! Pioneer also makes a bigger, 10 inch version called the RT-909. The problem with that one is that it has a digital display, and thos displays are starting to fail, and there are no replacements. So in my opinion, the 7" RT-707 is the one to get, since it will probably work just fine. There are better machines, but they will probably cost a crap load to get rebuilt. The main reason I got my RT-707 decades ago is because it has a pitch control on it, and it has instant start, so you can actually DJ with it. Plus before Abelton Live was invented, this is what I used to cut and splice my own remixes. These machines where made in 1976, and they are still going strong. Mine has worked perfectly all these years with practically zero maintenance.

  2. #2
    Moderator Mark_Spit's Avatar
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    That’s pretty sweet, and compact too. What size tape is that? 1/4”?

    I used to have a basic 1/4” R2R years ago (suitcase type). Can’t remember what I did with it lol.
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  3. #3
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    Yeah it’s 1/4 inch tape. It is an auto reverse deck. So it records two stereo channels on half of the tape, or 1/8 of the tape. That means that each stereo channel gets recorded on 1/16th of the tape. When it gets to the end, it auto reverses, and plays the tape the other direction. Which has two channels of audio on the other 1/8th of the tape. I believe mine is called a 4 track, 2 channel deck. If you see a R2R with 4 VU meters, those are 4 track, 4 channel decks. Those are not auto reverse. They record 4 channels on the whole 1/4 inch tape. Those are made more for musicians, so the singer, the lead guitar, the drummer, and the bass, each have their own microphone and channel. They can also be used to record two stereo channels, where they will record two stereo channels on the whole 1/4 inch tape, or one channel per 1/8 of the tape. It’s kind of complicated to explain, and I probably didn’t explain it correctly, but you get the idea. Just remember, two VU meters = home use, 4 VU meters = studio use, but you can still use them at home. So why get a R2R when you can simply buy a digital recorder to record your records? Audiophiles will tell you that if you use a digital recorder, you are taking an analog record, converting it to digital, and then converting it back to analog so you can listen to it. But if you use a R2R, everything stays analog, so you don’t lose anything in the conversion. The question is, can you hear a difference using a digital recorder or R2R. I personally can’t. So why do it then. Because it’s cool. R2R are cool, no arguing that point. So if you want one, you better jump on the band wagon while they are still relatively cheap.

  4. #4
    Your move ⚒️ Alex Murphy's Avatar
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    One of my uncles was very fond of R2R - great sound quality. As a Hifi geek myself I would have loved to have one just to look good, but I can't justify the amount of space needed as I already have a lot. I still have a Sony ES something double tape deck that I don't really use much (ripping old tapes and remastering to digital) plus needs a belts refurb..

    I agree those are literally top of the shelf regarding cool factor.
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  5. #5
    Truck Driver Dix's Avatar
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    I haven't used a R2R since my days in radio in the early to mid 80s. We had Teac, but I don't remember which model they were. We did run some music off them but mostly we ran special programs, like farm & ag reports, some religious programs on Sunday's, etc.
    We also used them in the production room to record ads/spots/commercials, then transfer it to 4 track carts.

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  6. #6
    Deez Beats! KLH's Avatar
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    My parents had two R2R decks - Teac (stereo) and Panasonic (quadraphonic). As a kid, I loved watching the reels rotate. I suppose there are those who like watching the rotation of TTs and R2Rs.
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